• Family: Cyprinidae (Minnows and Carps)
• Other Names: None
• Ohio Status: No special status
• Adult Size: Typically 2-3 inches, can reach 4 inches.
• Typical Foods: Various aquatic invertebrates.
The bullhead minnow has stout half ray in front of the usual 8 rays on the dorsal fin and the scales on the back between the head and dorsal fin are small and squished together. There is a dark spot of pigment on the first two or three dorsal rays about mid way up the fin. There is only a faint narrow stripe along the side which is often more visible closer to the tail. Bullhead minnows have a distinct dark spot at the base of the tail and a complete lateral line. There is a dark crescent shaped mark of pigment on the side of the snout and they have a nearly terminal (ending at tip of snout) mouth. Breeding males have 2 rows of large sharply pointed tubercles (horn like bumps). Breeding males also have a spongy pad on the back between the head and dorsal fin. Bullhead minnows differ from the closely related fathead minnow by having a complete lateral line. They also differ from the bluntnose minnow by not having a distinct stripe along the side, a less narrow body, and a terminal rather than sub-terminal mouth. Both bluntnose and fathead minnows lack the dark crescent of pigment on the side of the snout.
Habitat and Habits
Bullhead minnows are found in pools and other areas that lack flow of large rivers. They are rather tolerant of turbid (murky) water and clayey silt laden substrates. In Ohio the bullhead minnow is only found in the Ohio River drainage in larger rivers such as the Scioto and Muskingum Rivers.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Bullhead minnows spawn repeatedly starting in May and continue into August. Males select the spawning site, usually under logs, branches or rocks in shallow water. They will also use artificial spawning sites in old tiles or pipes. Females lay adhesive eggs on the underside of whatever the male has chosen to spawn under. The male then aggressively defends the spawning site from other fish. Males also use the large spongy pad on the top of their body to clean the eggs the female has laid on the underside of the select object.